Tag:Ed Reed
Posted on: September 10, 2011 10:38 am

7-Point Preview: Steelers vs. Ravens

Posted by Ryan Wilson

1. Pittsburgh Steelers (0-0) vs. Baltimore Ravens (0-0)
The Ravens will begin the 2011 season the same way they ended 2010: facing the Steelers. Not only are they AFC North rivals, but there's a good argument that this matchup is annually the NFL's fiercest. At least in terms of physicality; as for the results, Pittsburgh has the edge, especially when quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is under center. In fact, Big Ben is undefeated against the Ravens in his last seven starts, something that leaves defensive end Terrell Suggs a little queasy.

"They spoiled our Super Bowl dreams for the last two out of three years," Suggs said. "We have to switch that, you know? It's sickening. It ends our season every year we lose to our division rival. I'm sick of it. I'm disgusted. I'm tired of having a sick feeling in my stomach for a whole year."

But the Ravens have their own franchise quarterback in Joe Flacco, who has helped his team to the postseason his first three years in the league, and has yet to miss a start during that time. Still, the playoff wins on the road against the Patriots in '09, or the '08 AFC Championship Game appearance don't mean much unless the conversation ends with "and the Ravens won the Super Bowl." Exacerbating matters: Flacco is 2-6 against the Steelers in his career and he has yet to beat Roethlisberger. (The two wins came against a Roethlisberger-less Pittsburgh team -- Dennis Dixon started late in the '09 season, and Charlie Batch was under center during Week 4 of the 2010 campaign.)

The Rivalry

2. What the Degenerate Gamblers and Eggheads Are Saying:
"You can throw the records out the window" is a cliche, yes, but in this case it's also fitting. While the Steelers hold the win-loss edge, these matchup are invariably close, usually coming down to a huge fourth-quarter play. That, their similarly bruising styles, and the game being in Baltimore means the Steelers are just one-point favorites, according to Bodog.com.

As for the pocket-protector set, our good friends at Football Outsiders have the Steelers atop their preseason rankings (2nd in defense, 5th in offense, 5th in special teams), and the Ravens are sixth (9th in defense, 8th in offense, 3rd in special teams).

The CBSSports.com experts are split: three like the Steelers, two favor the Ravens.

3. Key Matchup to Watch
For the first time in his career, Flacco finally has a legitimate deep threat. The Ravens traded for wide receiver Lee Evans after rookie Torrey Smith's unimpressive showing during the first week of the preseason. (To be fair, Smith didn't have a chance; the second-round pick out of Maryland missed OTAs and minicamp because of the lockout, and had just a few weeks to transition to NFL.)

Evans will play opposite Anquan Boldin, but Flacco's two go-to targets -- Derrick Mason and Todd Heap -- are no longer with the team. Mason signed with the Jets and Baltimore released Heap, who is now in Arizona. Second-year players Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta will replace Heap although it may take time for Flacco to develop a rapport with them that he shared with Heap.

The Steelers will try to stop the Ravens' passing attack with what many experts consider its weakest link: the cornerbacks. Ike Taylor broke a finger during the preseason but will be on the field Sunday. And, frankly, the cast he'll be wearing won't have much bearing on his performance. He's a solid cover cornerback who's been known to drop an interception or 12. As long as his legs work, he'll be fine. The other corner, Bryant McFadden, is another story. He's battled a hamstring injury for all of training camp and if 2011 is anything like 2010, offenses will target him all day.

Safety Troy Polamalu, the 2010 Defensive Player of the Year, can mitigate many of the secondary's shortcomings, particularly when he's at full strength. And to hear him tell it, his Achilles injury, which bothered him late last season all the way through the Super Bowl, is healed and he feels as good as ever.

The Steelers' defensive backs might have more critics but the Ravens' secondary is young and inexperienced, the two things you absolutely don't want to be when facing the likes of Mike Wallace, Hines Ward, Emmanuel Sanders, Antonio Brown and Heath Miller, and with Roethlisberger throwing them the ball.

Rookie first-rounder, cornerback Jimmy Smith, will start, as will Cary Williams, who spent much of his NFL career on the practice squad. But future Hall of Famer Ed Reed will be on the field, too, which means that a turnover is always just a play away. Still, Reed understands what his guys are up against.

“We have to do our job, and that job is to slow those guys down, keep them out of the end zone, and cover them," he said, according to the Baltimore Sun. We’ve got fast guys around here, too. The only disadvantage for the defense is, for the secondary guys, we’re moving backwards at the start. But it’s part of the game. We knew that. We signed up for it. And we’re definitely ready for the mission.”

Whether Baltimore's offensive line, currently held together by duct tape, feels the same way is another story. Recent free-agent additions Bryant McKinnie and Andre Gurode join a group that has been reshuffled due to injuries and inconsistencies. It's one thing to make these changes months before the season; it's something else entirely to try to pull it off in just a few weeks after a lockout against a front seven that led the NFL in sacks a season ago.

And this is where the most important cog in Baltimore's offense comes in. Ray Rice is one of the most dangerous players in the league, a sure-handed running back who is both powerful and elusive and also serves as a genuine pass-catching threat. If he's running the ball effectively, Flacco's job is made markedly easier. The problem, of course, is that the Steelers stop the run better than any defense in the league.

4. Potentially Relevant YouTube
Apparently, these two teams play a physical brand of football.

5. The Steelers win if…
The defensive front seven creates confusion for the Ravens offensive line and forces Flacco into mistakes. If Big Ben and his stable of big-play pass-catchers take advantage of a young Baltimore secondary, the game might not be close.

6. The Ravens win if…
The offensive line holds up and gives Flacco an opportunity to exploit McFadden (particularly if he's covering Evans), which should also allow Rice more room to make plays. Defensively, Haloti Ngata, Ray Lewis and Suggs will have to help their young secondary by getting consistent pressure on Roethlisberger.

7. Prediction: Steelers 24 Ravens 20

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 1:39 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 2:00 pm

Wilson returns to practice, hopes to play Week 1

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It's been more than two weeks since Cardinals safety Adrian Wilson suffered a torn bicep muscle. At the time, the hope was that he'd be ready for the start of regular season on September 11.

For the first time since the August 6 injury, Wilson was in shoulder pads and a helmet, taking part in non-contact drills during Tuesday's practice.

"No, it's all good," Wilson said, according to the Arizona Republic's Kent Somers. "Just getting some rust off. We'll see where I'm at in September. Hopefully there are no setbacks. Everything is on the up and up."

The goal remains Week 1, now 18 days away.

"Training camp is such a grind, and whenever you have an injury, it kind of takes a toll on you," he said. "The guys are very excited, and I'm very excited as well."

And there's plenty to be excited about. Arizona appears to have found their replacement for Kurt Warner in Kevin Kolb (in related news, team released second-year quarterback Max Hall, who started three games for the Cards last season). They also locked wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald up for another eight years.

As for Wilson, he's clearly an integral part of Arizona's defense, but ESPN.com blogger Mike Sando makes a good point: assuming Wilson's back for the season opener against the Panthers, what happens the first time he tries to deflect a pass or make a tackle?

We've seen the effect injuries can have on safeties who make their living dishing out licks and disrupting the passing game. Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu, two of the best safeties in NFL history, not only haven't been effective when on the field at less than full strength, they've been targeted by opposing offenses. We saw it most recently during the Steelers' 2011 postseason. The question then becomes whether the injured superstar is better than the No. 2 guy on the depth chart.

And in most cases, they are. Which is why we'll probably see Wilson to open the season.

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Posted on: July 28, 2011 11:59 pm

Nearly a dozen Ravens felled by minor injuries

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Oh, so this is what happens when a lockout ruins all of your offseason workout plans and you have to start compressing an entire pre-2011 schedule into late July and early August. You get hurt and you get cramps, and you can certainly expect to hear more about this.

According to the Baltimore Sun, 11 Ravens players suffered minor injuries at practice today during the first day of training camp.

At least seven players went down with cramps, including rookie WR Torrey Smith, while OT Eric Vanden Heuval and LB Jason Phillips had to be carted off the field.

Meanwhile, LB Terrell Suggs, who wore a wrap around his right hamstring, did not practice. Neither did S Ed Reed, who is dealing with a family situation and could report to camp by Saturday.

So yeah, not a great start to the actual NFL season for the Ravens.

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Posted on: July 24, 2011 8:23 pm
Edited on: July 24, 2011 8:52 pm

Hot Routes 7.24.11: Cutler calls off engagement

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

  • A day after Ben Roethlisberger got married, Bears QB Jay Cutler will not be doing the same. According to People, Cutler called off his engagement with reality TV star Kristin Cavallari. "She got dumped," says a magazine source. "She's absolutely devastated. She can't believe this is happening."

  • What will the Jets’ plans for free agency say about QB Mark Sanchez? Do they feel he needs big-time players around him in order for him to succeed?
  • NFL.com’s Gil Brandt isn’t completely impressed by this class of undrafted free agents’ ability to make an immediate impact.
  • It sounds like 49ers LB Manny Lawson is preparing himself to move on from San Francisco. One reason why? San Francisco’s first-round pick, Aldon Smith, is described by at least one person as very similar to Lawson. Except, you know, Smith is younger.

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Posted on: June 22, 2011 12:00 am
Edited on: June 22, 2011 9:45 am

Ed Reed: 'I'm still not 100 percent'

ReedPosted by Josh Katzowitz

After coming off reconstructive hip surgery, Ravens S Ed Reed wasn’t sure he could play last season, though it didn’t stop him from asking for a new contract.

Then, he missed the first six games of the 2010 season, but damn if he didn’t come back and play like the dude deserves a new freakin’ contract already.

Despite missing nearly half the season, Reed led the league with eight interceptions and re-established himself as probably the best safety in the league.*

And you know what’s even more impressive about last season?

Reed says he wasn’t completely healthy. Hell, he says he’s STILL not feeling completely normal. It’s not just his hip. It’s also his neck which has bothered him the past couple seasons.

“I'm still not 100 percent," Reed told the New Orleans Times Picayune. "But I'm 100 percent mentally at this point as far as everything I can do. I know my limitations. I still have a lot of work to do before the season starts."

*And if you have a problem with that designation, I invite you to click the video link right here. It’s CBSSports.com’s Pete Prisco defending his list of the top-100 players in the NFL on the NFL Network (you should see Prisco's exchange with Jaguars RB Maurice Jones-Drew. It's, um pretty interesting). Reed is mentioned, though Prisco isn’t quite as bullish on Reed as one might think. But he likes Reed a little more than he likes Steelers S Troy Polamalu.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: June 16, 2011 10:00 am
Edited on: June 16, 2011 10:46 am

Report: John Harbaugh didn't want Jimmy Smith?

Posted by Ryan Wilson

It wasn't a surprise when the Ravens eventually selected troubled cornerback Jimmy Smith in the April draft. Baltimore needed secondary help, and conventional wisdom suggested that the Ravens locker room, led by Ray Lewis and Ed Reed, would keep Smith in line.

Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has an impressive track record of drafting winners, dating back to 1996, when he took Jonathan Ogden and Lewis. So you're willing to give Newsome the benefit of the doubt on Smith, even if you couldn't see the former Colorado cornerback through all the raised red flags.

Turns out, according to a report from Baltimore Sports Report, Ravens coach John Harbaugh didn't want Smith.

In a recent radio appearance with Ken Weinman and Vinny Cerrato (yep, same guy) on 105.7 The Fan, Philly radio personality Howard Eskin says he believes that all the confusion surrounding the Ravens' 26th pick (which ultimately turned into the 27th pick) was because Harbaugh was uncomfortable taking Smith.

“You know those background checks they do,” Eskin asked. ”Man, it didn’t come up pretty (on Smith). …

“Smith had problems — he was struggling with the character issues, he really was,” Eskin said. “And once the Eagles got past their place in the draft, I think there was communication between John (Harbaugh) and the Eagles people to try to find out a little about this guy because they know that the Eagles did look at him and I think he had some real reservations with that.”

This is all speculation at this point. Eskin admits that he hasn't talked to Harbaugh, although he presumably heard something somewhere. Plus, it's not unreasonable to think that Harbaugh -- or anyone in the Ravens organization -- had reservations about Smith. Leading up to the draft, many experts said that Smith had top-10 talent but the dreaded "character concerns" dropped him off many teams' draft board. Twenty-six teams passed on him, after all.

As PFT's Mike Florio points out, it's only a matter of time before the Ravens issue a statement denying Eskin's report because they're already invested in Smith. Unless Harbaugh can get his hands on a time machine, Smith is now his problem. Might as well make the best of it.

UPDATE: Peter King, via Twitter, refutes Eskin's comments: "That story about John Harbaugh not wanting Jimmy Smith? Wrong. Totally wrong."

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Posted on: April 5, 2011 11:58 pm

Ed Reed not thinking about retirement now

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Last year at this time, Ravens FS Ed Reed was contemplating retirement after hip surgery (you’ll remember that he missed the first six games of the 2010 season because of it, though he still somehow finished with a league-leading eight interceptions).

Not any more, though. Now, he’s ready to play. Even if he still is rehabbing his hip.

“It was a year-long process,” Reed told the Baltimore Sun. “I came back earlier than I was supposed to, but my doctors and trainers with the team helped me make sure I stayed in shape. Me staying up on my treatments, acupuncture, everything that I had to do, the stuff that you never see, has helped maintain. Years of taking care of yourself helps you maintain."

That’s why Reed, after not participating in any offseason workouts last year, might try to organize workouts for some of his teammates. He's got to maintain.

“We know that just coming together as a team, guys seeing each other, it makes a big difference,” Reed said.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: April 3, 2011 4:29 pm
Edited on: April 3, 2011 4:51 pm

Nakamura helps raise $60K for Japan relief

H. Nakamura helped raise $60,000 to help his countrymen (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

After the earthquake/tsunami/nuclear radiation package deal that has devastated Japan – and made big reverberations around the world – Ravens S Haruki Nakamura felt he had to do something for his heritage.

So, he, along with the Red Cross, organized a relief effort Saturday where players like Nakamura, QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, FS Ed Reed, DT Brandon McKinney, CB Chris Carr and former WR Qadry Ismail signed autographs in exchange for money that went to the Red Cross International Fund.

And it was a big-time success.

According to the National Football Post, $60,000 was raised.

"When we were pulling up, I had goosebumps," Nakamura said to NFP. "It was crazy. It's not what we expected. It was a small idea, and this is huge. It's awesome. It means a lot. It shows how much people really care."

More from Aaron Wilson’s story:

Some fans complained via Twitter that they were unable to make it through the long lines to get autographs, but emphasized that the event was for a good cause.

Reed traveled from Atlanta to be there. And Rice and Flacco drove in from New York and New Jersey, respectively, to support Nakamura.

"When you see things happen on the news, you realize it's not just about you," Rice said. "We're all a family. It's always great to come out to events like this when you've got a guy whose family is out there and is affected by things like this."

"That’s the American spirit," Carr said. "People want to help out those who are less fortunate, and that’s why we’re here. It's for a great cause."

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com